About Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a contemporary form of exercise which has roots in ancient Chinese culture. It is practiced today for a variety of reasons including health, martial art, meditation, aesthetics, and for competition or sport.

For individuals looking for a fitness activity that is not only fun to do but also good for health, Tai Chi fits both these descriptions. There has been a recent increase in the past decade of studies reporting many positive health benefits of Tai Chi.

Individuals looking to increase their strength could greatly benefit from Tai Chi classes. A Stanford University 2006 study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine showed that Tai Chi was proven to increases strength in individuals who practiced it 3 times a week (Harvard Medical Publications). The research showed that a group composed of men and women, average age of 66, with fitness levels below average, after 12 weeks had improved their lower and upper body strength. The lower body test was to see how many times they could rise from a chair in 30 seconds. While the upper body test was based on their ability to do arm curls. This same study showed that Tai Chi considerably boosted upper body and lower body flexibility in women.

Improved balance is another benefit that comes from practicing Tai Chi.  A study by the American College of Sports Medicine showed that Tai Chi practice improved motor control in daily life activities (American College of Sports Medicine). This improved control will allow fitness enthusiasts to better perform movements in their other fitness activities.  Increased balance will help individual in performing exercises such as weight lifting and cardiovascular activity such as using a treadmill.

Studies by the George Institute for International Health have recently discovered that Tai Chi has positive benefits for musculoskeletal pain. The same study showed that Tai Chi improves pain and disability amongst people with arthritis.  Also, a study from Arthritis Care and Research showed that people over 65 who suffer from osteoarthritis reported a decrease in knee pain by practicing tai chi on a regular basis. On top of this successive studies by the Journal of American Geriatrics Society and the NCCAM, reported that practicing Tai Chi could lower blood pressure (NCCAM, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 1999). Finally, a 2007 NCCAM study showed that Tai Chi may increase the ability of the immune system and therefore improve overall health in older adults.

Exercises such as Tai Chi can also decrease stress and help improve people’s moods in general. Studies that were published in PsychLit and Medline between 1996 and 1999 describe Tai Chi as a healthy form of moderate exercise. It is also shown to improve psychological well-being by improving mood (International Journal of Stress Management).

Appendix:

International Journal of Stress Management Publisher Springer Netherlands ISSN1072-5245 (Print) 1573-3424 (Online) Issue Volume 7, Number 2 / April, 2000.

Ravi Tangri, author of StressCosts, Stress-Cures at Health and Safety Canada 2005.

Statistics Canada. 2001. “How healthy are Canadians? 2001 annual report.” Health Reports, Special issue (Statistics Canada, catalogue no. 82-003-XIE) 12, no. 3 (Winter).

World Health Organization, Southern Australian Workplace Physical Activity Resource Kit, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez/19877092.

NCCAM, 2008, a review of published research, also funded by NCCAM, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 1999; 47:277-284.

2009The American College of Sports Medicine, online journal http://www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home_Page&template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=4226.

Harvard Medical Publications Website: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Womens_Health_Watch/2009/May/The-health-benefits-of-tai-chi?utm_source=womens&utm_medium=pressrelease&utm_campaign=womens0509.

Attitudes in the American Workplace 2006 Gallup poll, http://www.stress.org/job.htm.

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